Um, Can you tell I had fun with this one? You bet I did!

I have so much to write today.  Good thing I finished fairly early!

So where to begin…

My influence for this style of work absolutely owns it’s origin’s with artist Richard Merkin.


If you click his name above, you can read his bio, but pretty much he was a picture framing customer of my family’s business.  It took many years before he would work with me.  For the first decade he would only work with Bill, my grandfather and fellow illustrator to Richard. Slowly he began to work with my mom “who was no Bill” and then 20 years later he slowly began to work with me “who was no Patty”.  That was how he was.  He didn’t trust you had any talent until he did trust you had talent, then he would only work with you.  What a handful!

So I got to work with Richard Merkin and his amazing art.  Please take a quick glance at this website below to better understand his style:


What I loved about his work was it’s simplicity and confidence.  There are no wishy-washy lines.  He drew with pastels and he knew exactly what he was going to put down before he put it down.  His color use is fabulous.  His negative space is carefully thought out.  Most of his work shows his wry sense of humor yet also tells a story.

This man wore a yellow and red striped beanie and a giant white mustache. And he rocked it.  You could see him coming a mile down the street.  Brightly colored, absolutely funky, tremendously confident.  He made you want to step aside.  I adored his confidence.

The older I get, the crazier my clothing seems to get.  I owe this to him.  I would simply observe him and I realized if you act like what you are doing is perfectly normal, like you just happen to be “SPECIAL”, people seem to go along with it.  By the time I am in my 60’s, I plan on wearing cat-eyed glasses, feathers and ridiculous patterns (oh, wait I already do!).


Where as Merkin used pastels, I love using wax crayons & watercolors.  I have to make it my own, but what I take from him is the flat 2-D planes of color, exact &  simplified lines, and a careful consideration of negative space. I am a true lover of pattern, so I add that in any chance I get as well.

Here are some other works of mine influenced by Richard Merkin:


He is no longer with us, but absolutely unforgettable.  He has left his mark.


Let me talk about the premise of my painting.

The subject is a commentary on those who buy art, or shall I say those who are not buying art?

I have been going to art shows since I could walk. The rooms were always filled with eccentrics.  Crazy little outfits.  Crazy personalities and egos and the very normal and traditional as well. At my moms art shows, I can remember this 80 year old couple.  They showed up to every event, dressed to the nines and parked themselves in front of the caviar religiously.  We loved having them.  They were part of the whole experience. This painting celebrates these fun happenings.

Now, I get it, this wasn’t a part of everyone’s upbringing.  This just happened to be what was important to my family. But what I would like to address is what I seem to find missing in a lot (not all) of my generation.

It’s the patronage of the arts.

This is my plea.

Hopefully I am not about to lose every friend I own, but here it goes…


One’s home should be a reflection of one’s interests.  When you enter one’s home, you should be able to learn more about the owner’s personality and their values.

If your art comes with or matches your couch, what is it telling people is important to you? your couch?

Are you an aficionado of music, dance, politics, antiques, cuisine, sports, the environment, animals? Are you showing the world this throughout your home?  or is there only a big black box on the wall?

What are you teaching your children?

What will they learn is important about our culture in the upcoming century?

Is it Ughs. Ipods. Louis Vuitton bags?

Dinner out twice, could be an investment in art that could hang on your walls for a lifetime and be passed onto the next generation.

What is in your homes that would be worth passing on?

I’m pretty sure it’s not from Pottery Barn.

I am sorry.  This is strong. It’s very judgmental.

 I do hope you understand there is absolutely nothing wrong with Pottery Barn!

I am using “Pottery Barn” as a blanket term for mass-produced aesthetics. Something that you and your neighbor would both have thus making the object less original or unique.

What this has to do with is a current change in values as the recent eldest generation begins to pass.

People in the past really saved and sacrificed to own what few belongings they had.  For this reason, they really meant something, were very well-made and passed down as heirlooms.

What my generation has inherited is a disposable way of life.

I ask you to take a good look around your home and pay attention to your investments.

We have to decide what legacy we will be passing on to the next generation.  What is important to us as humans, what should be celebrated? We need to make sure that this is what we are reflecting.

Otherwise, this is it.

The days of investing in art will fade like the fake-painting that matches the couch.

To be disposed of in a few short years and replaced with the same thing.


websites like:






Have affordable options that differentiate you from everyone else. We are all unique, our surroundings should reflect it.

Please don’t hate my harsh remarks, I just ask that YOU, people of my generation, YOU define what you find aesthetically pleasing or thoughtfully provocative.  Please do not place that decision in the hands of a mass-market merchandiser.  I know there is more to all of us than this.

Find your voice and hang it on your walls!

Ok. I’m now stepping down from my soapbox. :)


Like me on Facebook:  Be Creative Mary

1 Comment

  1. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! the blog! Right there with ya! And Mr. Merkin-wish I could have a cup of coffee with him and listen to him. He’s right up my alley. I’m loving today’s “Art Consumer”–she looks like a few people I know.

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